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Secession of South Carolina

State of South Carolina Constitutional Convention
December 17 - 20, 1860

On the 5th day of November, 1860, the Legislature of South Carolina convened in extra session at Columbia in compliance with the proclamation of Governor Gist. This extra session was called ostensibly for the purpose of appointing electors of President and Vice-President, in conformity with the Act of Congress, which fixed the time when these electors were to be appointed on a day when the Legislature of the State was not in session. In his message to this Legislature,Governor Gist uses the following language:

Under ordinary circumstances, your duty could be soon discharged by the election of electors representing the choice of the people of the State: but in view of the threatening aspect of affairs, and the strong probability of the election to the presidency of a sectional candidate by a party committed to the support of measures which, if carried out, will inevitably destroy our equality in the Union, and ultimately reduce the Southern States to mere provinces of consolidated despotism, to be governed by a fixed majority of Congress, hostile to our institutions, and fatally bent upon our ruin, I would respectfully suggest that the Legislature remain in session and take such actions as will prepare the State for any emergency that may arise. That an expression of the will of the people may be obtained on a question involving such momentous consequences, I would earnestly recommend that in the event of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, a convention of the people of this State be immediately called to consider and determine the "mode and measure of redress."

The success of Mr. Lincoln in being elected to the presidency having been announced, resolutions were introduced in the House, and also in the Senate, declaring it to be the duty of South Carolina to withdraw from the Federal Union, and that for this purpose a convention of the people should be called to assemble at an early day.

In compliance with the provisions of these resolutions, delegates from the several districts and parishes of the State were elected, who assembled in convention at Columbia, on the 17th day of December, 1860.

Upon the organization of the convention Honorable David F. Jamison was chosen president. Without delay such committees were appointed by him as were necessary to formulate the work of the convention. Most important among these was the committee to which was entrusted the duty of drafting an ordinance of secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union. The committee was composed of the following: John A. Inglis, R.B. Rhett, James Chesnut, Jr., James L. Orr, Maxcy Gregg, B.F. Dunkin and W.H. Hutson. They drafted an ordinance and submitted it to the convention, which adopted it unanimously on the 20th day of December, under the head of Ordinance of Secession.


December 20, 1860
Vote of Convention: Unanimous

At a convention of the people of the State of South Carolina, begun and holden at Columbia on the 17th day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, and thence continued by adjournment to Charleston, and there, by divers adjournments, to the 20th day of December in the same year:

An Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled The Constitution of the United States of America.

We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the "United States of America," is hereby dissolved. Done at Charleston the 20th day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty. D.F. Jamison: Delegate from Barnwell and President of the Convention, and others.

Attest: Benjamin F. Arthur, Clerk of the Convention.



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